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The Good and Bad of New Jersey’s Wine Reform Bill


On January 17, 2012, Assembly Bill 4436 was signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie.  The law allows New Jersey wineries to ship wine to customers and also enables New Jersey residents to buy wine directly from sellers in other states.

The new law affects wineries producing less than 250,000 gallons of wine a year, and limits shipments to no more than 12 cases of wine per year, per consumer.

The Good

The illegality of wine shipping from New Jersey wineries to customers is thought, by many in the industry, to have stunted the growth of the wine business in the Garden State.  This change is thought to be an answer to the issue.

One of the concerns being alleviated by the new law is that tasting rooms at New Jersey wineries will not face restrictions on the selling of wine to out-of-state consumers, as being requested by out-of-state wineries viewing this as unfair competition, “we’re a small winery in Sussex County and people who visit us can’t buy our wines when they return to their home states.  This law is extremely important to us”, says Anthony Riccio, Winemaker at Cava Winery and Vineyard in Hamburg.

The Bad (?)

The bill is strongly opposed by New Jersey liquor stores and distributors who perceive the new legislature as a potential blow to their New Jersey wine sales.  The ability to get direct wine shipments from boutique wineries throughout the USA could be a financial drawback to New Jersey sellers who haven’t felt the need to carry some of these limited-quantity wines in the past.

Some of the new law’s naysayers also claim it opens the door to wine sales by teenagers via the internet.

There are clearly good and, potentially, bad to the passing of this new law that will continue to create passionate debates among the parties involved.

New Jersey is the 39th state to allow consumers to buy wine directly from licensed wineries.  Please let us know how you feel about this topic.

Cheers,

Veronique Deblois, Food & Wine Chickie. Veronique is a food and wine writer based in Morris County, NJ.  As the author of the popular blog, Food & Wine Chickie Insider, Veronique shares recipes, wine and restaurant reviews and insight into the travel industry of which she’s a 15-year veteran.  Follow Veronique on Twitter or like her Facebook page.

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